- Published: 29 June 2015
Mr. Speaker, My Colleague Ministers, Honourable Members of this side of the House, I now rise to add my input to the President’s Address on the opening of the 11th Parliament as it pertains to my portfolio as Minister of Public Infrastructure.
However let me join my colleagues in offering my congratulations to you Mr. Speaker on your election to this position, I have no doubt that you are going to preside over a period of transformative legistration, the proposed constitutional reforms as mentioned by the Prime minister will transform the relationship between the elected and electors.
Having been charged with the responsibility of Public Infrastructure, Energy and Communications and recognizing that Infrastructural Development is critical to Guyana’s economic transformation, my focus will be what our President referred to as our 2020 vision – our vision for this next five (5) years
The Government’s strategic plan for Transport Sector is premised on its belief that the transport infrastructure and services are central to the growth and development of the Guyanese economy and society throughout this first and subsequent terms of the APNU+AFC Government. The Plan is to expand and modernize the transport sector, link the hinterland regions with the coast lands, to support the development of value-added production in a range of economic sectors and industries where competitive advantages already exist or may be built in the future, and to enhance access to domestic, regional and international markets.
-In this regard the Government’s intention is to totally rehabilitate the run down wharves and stellings and outfit the Transport and Harbours Department with suitable vessels to carry out its mandate to facilitate the efficient transportation of goods and services thus reducing transport costs in production and distribution and expanding the geographic range of distribution routes and markets. It is the Government’s intention to vigorously pursue development in these areas to make our Transportation network as efficient and reliable and very cost effective.
-Our government will also focus on land, air and its maritime transport systems to make them into viable and productive entities.
-The transport system also can greatly increase social well-being by improving access to social and recreational services, facilitating community development and contributing to the exercise of individual rights such as freedom of movement and association.
-The strategic vision also includes enhancement of the environment sustainability of the domestic transport system. The development of a modernized public transport system will be a priority as is the construction of the southern Corridor, which will be pursued with the input, and assistance of international funding agencies. This will facilitate the building of linkages e. g. Orealla Road (Moleson Creek to Orealla) East Bank Berbice. etc – North/South Road Linages; Lethem to Linden raodway.
Road Transport Policy Initiatives
To increase the provision, efficiency and safety of road transport services, the Government plans to:
-Re-introduce big buses on long routes, enforce appropriate speed and weight restrictions on heavy vehicles and expand road safety programmes in schools and elsewhere.
-Establish a Public Transport Authority that will be responsible for consolidating public transport functions currently scattered across agencies as well as coordinating with all other stakeholders involved in the provision of public transport services.
The government will be addressing this section in a proactive manner, we intend to streamline the agencies involved with this important task to ensure that moving forward we do so in a more effective manner – to this end, all sea defense works inclusive of sluices will be under the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Maritime Administration Department
The Maritime Administration Department with responsibilities for dredging, pilotage, hydrographic surveys, accident investigations and several other related maritime issues.
During the next five years - the Maritime Administration Department is as follows:
•Pursue deep water harbor projects in alliance with the suitable partners. This is in line with the expansion and modernization of the Transport sector to support the development of value added productions.
•Intensify dredging in the ships channel through the acquisition of a well equipped Dredger with the requisite faculties to perform at its maximum or the chartering out of the services to International Dredging Companies. This comes with the recognition that this activity is a year-round exercise.
•Continue collaboration with the US Coast Guard in relation to capacity building training seminars for Port Security Officers. We have also will be seeking assistance from our regional sister countries in providing training to our local mariners.
•The number of river accidents continues to be of concern to the government, actually I was informed this morning of another river fatality only this morning, to this end MARAD will enhance safety features for boats, as well as better training of our boating captains.
•Develop the ports and shipping industry through the drafting and implementation of a Port Master Plan on a phased basis culminating in infrastructure development and effective dredging and maintenance of the ports and harbors and rivers on which national and international traffic depends.
•Commence to fashion a national policy for the development of marine infrastructure linked to the establishment of the Regional Maritime freight Network.
Demerara River Bridge
There is a high risk of a potential accident occurring to existing Demerara Habour bridge from a vessel hitting it and putting it out of operations. Since there is no alternative capacity to move vehicles across the Demerara River this poses a serious threat to businesses in Regions 2, 3 and 7 who depends on this structure.
To this end the Ministry of Public Infrastructure will be carrying out a full feasibility study to determine the most suitable option for bridging the Demerara River with the aim of increasing capacity to meet future demand.
This study be linked to a greater study that looks at new approaches to the expanding city and its environs and also the expanding infrastructure in the West Demerara area.
This is called our 2030 and beyond vision, since we fully intent to be serving the people of Guyana until then and beyond.
In keeping with our vision of linking communities, the government will review the CJIA expansion project with a view of extending the runway, renovationing and extending the existing terminal building to ensure that our needs will be served for the next 10 – 15 years. On behalf of the Government, I would like to inform the residents of Timehri North that this proposed extension of the runway will be done without the MASS relocation plan that was threaten by the previous administration. In fact, no more than 15 houses may need to be relocated, and if this is required suitable land close by will be found and developed for anyone dislocated PLUS assistance will be provided for this re-location.
Coupled with the proposed more steam-lined airport expansion, the GCAA (Guyana Civil Aviation Authority) will be striving to ensure that during the term of this Government, our country will attain a category 1 rating for the very first time in the country’s history to ensure this is accomplished, we will be upgrading our personnel and equipment; and implementing all the necessary requirements to achieve this aim.
Guyana Energy Agency
Our vision for the GEA is the provision of reliable supply of energy at the lowest costs possible, in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable framework.
To this end, the GEA will continue to manage, facilitate and monitor fuel imports along with licensing activities of the various fuel installations across the country.
The government will support the implementation of wind farms to supply energy to the national grid. Wind energy at the residential and commercial levels for off-grid applications will also be encouraged.
We will be conducting public education and awareness programmes thus providing consumers with information and tools for reducing energy consumption and expenditure for energy
Notwithstanding the plans by the GEA, the APNU/AFC Government will set up a multi-disciplinary Group to review, analyze and recommend a national and holistic approach for the development of our new and renewable sources of energy.
Mr. Speaker as you may well be aware, the government is in the process of reviewing of the Ameila Falls Hydro project, notwithstanding the results of the process, we are committed to hydro power and should this particular project not proceed, several other more holistic sites are being examined to ensure that in the near future Guyana will be able to tap into this vast potential.
If the Ameila Falls project does not continue in its current format, we are examining the options available of the meaningful use of the access road, as you are aware the country would have expended over US$40M on this road to date – hence some cost recovery avenues will have to be examined.
Irrespective of which ever source of renewable energy that will be utilized, the government is fully aware that GPL will have to be upgraded to receive and deliver in an efficient manner this resource, we will be implementing measures to reduce the technical and commercial losses of that entity, this will require upgrading our existing distribution network; reorganizing the existing management structure and well as combating commercial loss, our government is well aware that with the provision of cheaper more reliable electricity, the need for commercial losses will be greatly reduced.
Mr. Speaker, His Excellency the President reported to Parliament that his government will be introducing a National Infrastructure Plan aimed at linking our communities, this will be the mission of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure – thus I will like to join in commenting His Excellency speech, and the visions contained therein to this house.